Category Archives: Birmingham and Fazeley Canal

Flue Fear. 1st June

Hopwas Wood Bridge to Meadow Lane Bridge 50, Coventry Canal

Pootling along today on the flat meant I’d be working, however having a snot filled head did mean that what work I managed to do, in between blowing my nose, may get redone at a later stage. I did manage to draw up my panel design for the boozer, but the painting of it isn’t as good as I’d like.

South please

Meanwhile up on deck, Mick pootled us towards Fazeley Junction where we turned left towards Coventry. This route avoids the numerous locks up into Birmingham and then the numerous ones down again off the plateau that the city sits on.

Joining the queue

Today we’d pass through two locks, Glascote Locks. There are nearly always boats waiting to go up or down and the slow filling chambers mean you have to be patient. Today was no exception, there being what looked like three boats ahead of us. We pulled in behind and waited our turn. The middle boat of the three turned out to be a C&RT work boat moored on the end bollard of the lock landing.

There seemed to be plenty of people around to help, but not many with windlasses. I walked up to help. The first boat rose in the lock as one was coming down from above. As we were mob handed I walked up to help the lady at the second lock, then walked back thinking that the crew would walk up with the boat, but they were the crew from the next boat in line. Snot induced lack of enthusiasm on my part, I stayed put and waited for Oleanna.

No extra pairs of hands for us

With each boat going up one would come down, but no more boats appeared behind us, so we were left to work the locks with just the two of us, everyone else had stopped for lunch.

We pulled up on the moorings above the locks, Mick popped up to the Co-op hoping that there would be a copy of our newspaper left whilst I put the kettle on. Success! After lunch we pushed off again our aim to get within striking distance of Atherstone. However our progress was halted very soon.

Quite a catch

From below I knew from the change in engine tone that a blast of reverse wouldn’t get rid of what ever had wrapped itself around our prop! Mick didn’t even try, instead we drifted to the side where he tied up then loosened the weedhatch. A small duvet and cover was the culprit and fortunately easyish too remove.

Little Chimney Company

I worked as we pootled along spotting various familiar sights, the numerous well kept gardens of Tamworth, Alvecote Marina, the boats that had been ahead of us, the railway coming and going. Passing moored boats Mick would slow us down, one of these boats he’d been keeping an eye out for, The Little Chimney Company Boat. Normally around this area, there it was just before the M42. We pulled in.

Since having Oleanna we’ve been a touch concerned about the height of our flue from the stove. Being a new boat we had to have a double skinned flue fitted, Ricky at Finesse had done his best to get the flue looking good inside the boat, but this had left us with quite a bit of extra height outside, around 10 inches that is fixed. So far low bridges haven’t been a problem, there are still a few we know of to try, but Standedge Tunnel could be a whole other matter.

From this
down to less than half

A second opinion was needed. Kim came along and had a look and could see our dilemma. He could cut it down to a more manageable height, the extra length of flue that we had in a locker we could then use to regain the height we’d be about to loose. But most importantly at low bridges or tunnels we’d have a lot more chance of getting through.

Kim cutting away

Tilly was locked in the bedroom so we could run an extension lead out to Kim for his angle grinder. He marked the chimney five inches lower, covered our solar panel and set to work. With any burrs ground off the cut edge, our extension piece was tried, a fit. Brilliant! Ten minutes of cutting and chatting and we were good to go.

5 inches lower with the top back on

I returned below to carry on working and to let Tilly out from the bedroom. Normally she is either asleep or chomping at the bit to get back into the rest of the boat, but she was nowhere to be seen! Behind the bed by the steps she was cowering, the first time I’ve ever seen her truly scared. I did my best to reassure her that all was fine but she wasn’t having it.

After quite a lot of coaxing she edged her way towards the bathroom. The towel rail must have been what was making all the noise! Low and slow, keeping it in her sight at all times, she edged past it. As we made our way onwards she stayed jumpy and very very cautious of the bathroom, but slowly she started to calm down.

Troublesome towel rail

We reached where we were meant to be tonight, Tilly had I hoped calmed down enough to come home again so normal shore leave was granted, off she went into the sideways trees.

A couple of hours later she reappeared but seemed reluctant to come back on board. Only one thing for it, I stepped off gave her some chin rubs and picked her up, we can’t have a cat afraid of her home! Inside she took things slowly, the bathroom still a problem.

Her litter tray was moved out so she could check behind it, that was fine. Still the towel rail was the centre of her problem, she’d jab at it, at one point even hissed at it! We removed the towels so that she could see there was nothing hiding there, still she was very cautious.

2 locks, 9.91 miles, 1 left, 3rd in line, 0 behind us, 1 full box tissues used, 5 inches lower, £20 well spent, 1 seriously scared cat, 1 very very scary towel rail, 2 hours of trying to hide, 1 hissing fit, 1 cat needing reassurance in her own home.

His And Hers. 31st May

Magazine Bridge 55 to Hopwas Wood Bridge, Birmingham and Fazeley Canal

His and Her tissues

Well we tried our best, but failed. I have most definitely come down with Micks cold. He however suggests that it can’t be his as his started off with a dribbly nose and mine with a sore throat. One thing is for sure we now both have a box of tissues. Mick has been improving during the day whilst I’ve been going in the opposite direction.

Very evocative for me

Boats were coming past in both directions in a constant stream, so we pushed out and joined them. The off side is predominantly wood, Ravenshaw Wood which is currently filled with the pinky purple mountains of rhododendron flowers. A fantastic sight. In the garden of the house where I was born we had similar bushes, ours reached about 15ft high and were of varying colours. Here they towered higher 20 to 25ft high and all the same colour, the sun making them different shades as we passed by. Flowers as far as you could see through the trees.

Wood End Lock with it’s cranked beams

After about 20 minutes of rhododendrons we arrived at Wood End Lock. A boat was coming up and another in front of us waiting to go down. As one boat left the lock another would arrived to replace it in the queue. By the time it was our turn there were three below and two behind us. But now we were spaced out with suitable time between us and the one ahead to not have to wait too long at Shadehouse Lock.

Shadehouse Lock ahead

The Trent and Mersey Canal reaches it’s most southerly point and does a 90 degree turn back to the north east. Around here HS2, phase 1, will cut across the canal heading up towards Rugeley. How our landscape will change.

Brian and the walkers

At Shadehouse we had a short pause as one boat finished coming up the lock. The volunteer on duty here, Brian, was very jolly and we had quite a chat. A large group of walkers stopped and watched boats through the lock and then posed for a group photo. Brian did his best to not be too prominent, however he appeared in quite a few of my photos. He watched from the bridge as we made our way to Middle Lock awaiting the next boat.

Brian surveying the scene below

A younger chap worked us through the next lock, he was quite eager to have his lunch break so was a touch disappointed to hear about the boats following us. But when Brian decided to go for his lunch break he’d join him and it wouldn’t be long before he was feeling peckish as well.

Our intention to turn right onto the Coventry Canal was radioed ahead, we’d not be proceeding to the next lock. I walked ahead and checked at the junction, a boat was coming from the south and turning towards Oleanna. It can be quite chaotic at the junction at times, but today everything was quite orderly.

That photo everyone has to get of The Swan and your boat

Mick turned Oleanna and I swung the swing bridge open we then pulled in just past the water point, collected our rubbish up and Mick headed to the bins back round the corner. An early lunch then we pushed off again to head for Hopwas.

Time to add some colour

Now on the flat I retired below to start painting my model. Mick plugged his ears into the Men’s Cricket World Cup and was happy for the next few hours. New large houses just south of Fradley have that 1930’s look, without chimneys or the window onto a quarter landing on the staircase. Hardly affordable housing.

New housing trying to look like old

At around 4:30pm the hard edged section past the Ministry of Defence woods at Hopwas ended and Mick pulled us into the side. Back at Fradley everyone had been suggesting which pub to visit and how much they liked Hopwas. Except we stopped short and let the four legged one out. Tilly spent hours just feet away from Oleanna going round in circles, not knowing which friend to play with. I got the base coat of paint on much of my pub whilst Mick tried to grease the side hatch hinges which are starting to get stiff again.

3 locks, 10.3 miles, 1 mountainous mile of rhododendrons, 3 to come up, 2 to go down, 90 degrees back to the north, 2 Lockies, 1 right, 1 swing bridge, 0 held up, 2 bags rubbish, 3 weeks, 4 sliders, 2 sets doors, 3 tables, 2 bar stools, 6 short stools, 3 friends all wanting to play.